It seems like in today’s day and age identity theft or being hacked online is very common. It’s common for scammers to try and steal personal information through social media platforms, payment apps, emails, and other online activities. Oftentimes, these scammers will pose as someone else under a fake account to try and gain your confidence. Scary stuff indeed.
To help you better fight the battle against digital thieves, we’re laying out 7 ways to protect your identity while using online services.
- Keep Your Accounts Private
If your online or social media accounts are not private, anyone who accesses your profile on any social networking platform can screenshot and save your photos, your name, and any other personal information that you share on your profile. If you do not want that information accessible to the world, then you need to act by changing your account to ‘Private’ in the settings section of your profile.
- Safeguard Your Passwords and Change Them Often
It is important to make sure that your passwords are protected. If your password is compromised, then that individual has access to personal information and can gain complete control to your profiles. If there is an option for multi-factor authentication, always use it. Make sure that you have multiple passwords and store them in a password booklet that you keep in a safe place. A friendly reminder: do not share your passwords with anyone!
- Only Use Reputable Websites When Making Purchases
Here is a quick way to make sure that a website is reliable—do your research and read reviews! If someone is scammed, they will share about it. Another reliable resource to look for if the website uses a secure, encrypted connection for personal and finance information. This can be spotted by checking the URL for “https” before entering personal and financial information. “Https” stands for hypertext transfer protocol secure. If the site begins with “HTTP” that means it may not be secure.
- Monitor and Review Your Credit Score
It is important that if you come across unusual transactions or an account that you are not familiar with, that you contact your bank or customer service phone number on the back of your debit or credit card. Most online banking websites have the option to freeze or turn off your card, so if unusual activity is happening on your account make sure to take this step and then contact your bank.
- Do Not Respond to Suspicious Accounts or People You Do Not Know
If someone tries to send you a message on a social media account and asks you to download CashApp or click a link, DO NOT RESPOND. Immediately block and report the account. This is very common on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, and other online networking sites. It is common for hackers to compromise social media accounts for people you may know and will attempt to send you a message. How can you tell? Check to see how many friends/followers they have. If that number seems low, the profile was recently created. Also, do a search for that person’s name in your friends/followers list. If you see two profiles, a fake one was just created. Again, immediately block and report the account.
- Enable Alerting Options with Your Financial Institutions
If the option is there to alert email, SMS, and phone, use them all! It may be extra steps and seem like a hassle, but it is well worth it. Better safe than sorry when it comes to your financial accounts.
- STAY ALERT—Here are some common signs of identity theft to look for:
- Missing bills or other mail. Contact your creditors if your bills do not arrive or come late. This can indicate that an ID thief has tried to change your billing address to help them hide the crime.
- If you receive a credit card that you did not sign up for, call that creditor and cancel it immediately.
- Having your credit approval denied or being subjected to high interest rates for no reason.
- False information on your credit reports like your Social Security number, addresses, name or employer’s name.
Your online or digital identity has become as important as your physical identity – maybe even more. We ask that you please be vigilant about protecting your assets as the world continues to move forward into this vast digital landscape.